Taste owners celebrate three years in business
At 2317 Lee Road, one can see Cleveland Heights residents and out-of-towners enjoying delicious food and refreshing wine at the restaurant called Taste.
After taking a year to decide on a menu and the type of place they wanted, Raj Singh and Larry Weider opened the restaurant in 2008.
Singh, who owns Café Tandoor on Taylor Road and restaurants in Westlake and Aurora, is the managing partner of Taste. Weider, whose day job is in sales, takes care of the restaurant’s substantial wine list. The two are longtime friends.
“When we were opening, [Singh] wanted a fine dining restaurant and understands that having a good wine program is essential to having a successful restaurant,” Weider said. “We’re in this for the food, and the wine is here to support the food program.”
This past January, Taste celebrated its third birthday. “If you can make it to four, it is rather exciting,” Weider said. “After the excitement wears off the first year, you have to look for ways to continue to excite—like new dishes, innovative ideas, new items for the menu and mixed drinks.”
Taste offers a variety of dishes, such as rosemary pommes frites with romano cheese, filet mignon, and Cajun organic salmon over garlic spinach with a chardonnay cream sauce.
“We have an item that’s been on our menu nonstop since we opened. The sea scallops with creamy leeks, red pepper and mango coulis would have to be our signature dish,” Weider said.
Along with its food menu, Taste offers over 125 different selections of wine. “That’s a lot for any restaurant,” Weider said. “Wine is king. With liquor, water, coffee and beer added up, we sell more wine.”
Keeping a restaurant open is difficult. “If you can’t reach profitability, you don’t have the ability to pay your employees or vendors,” Weider said.
“The way I look at it," Weider added, "The fun comes later and the work needs to be done now. Making money in a tough economic environment is the challenge.
"To Raj’s credit, he runs a pretty tight ship. The fact that we’re still open after three years is pretty amazing. Statistics suggest that 70 percent of restaurants fail in the first three years, and that’s an incredible failure rate.”
After profitability, keeping clientele coming back is a must. Singh believes food quality, ambiance and service are the most important things a restaurant should have.
As for Taste's future, the duo would like to have a patio behind the restaurant. The atmosphere would be more private and cooler in the back because the sun is always in the front of the restaurant.
“If you take care of your customers, they will take care of you,” Weider said. “That’s the most gratifying part in any business. It’s sort of a glamour business. People like going out to dinner because it’s a fun experience and when the food and service are good, people love it.”
Yelena Tischenko is a senior majoring in magazine journalism at Kent State University and a Heights Observer intern.